It's easy to see why Denmark is often called the world's happiest country. Not only do they have equal parental leave for men and women, free higher education and trains that run on time, but they burn more candles per household than anywhere else.
So nobody knows more about happiness - the Danish Lykke - than Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the bestselling sensation The Little Book of Hygge. But he believes that, whilst we can certainly learn a lot from the Danes about finding fulfilment, the keys to happiness are actually buried around the globe.
In his captivating new book, he takes us on a treasure hunt to unlock the doors to inner fulfilment. From how we spend our precious time, to how we relate to our neighbours and cook dinner, he gathers evidence, stories and tips from the very happiest corners of the planet. This is the ultimate guide to how we can all find a little more Lykke in our lives.
Skandium asked the author about the story behind the Lykke, tips to get going on our own Lykke journey, and the most Lykke locations in London...
What inspired you to write The Little Book of Lykke? I wanted to show people that there is still a lot of good in the world, and that it is worth fighting for. The new book is essentially a global treasure hunt for pockets of happiness. What can we learn from people from around the world in order to improve our quality of life.
In The Little Book of Lykke you write a lot about the importance of community, in cities like London, where we tend to avoid our neighbours, is there any advice you would give to someone looking to create more of a local community?
Start with little things. I have set up a small mini library in my stairway - and actually just yesterday one of my neighbours had added a Danish crime novel to the collection. A mini library will not change the world - but it will be a little thing to slowly get the neighbors to talk more to each other.
Are there any items a home should contain to inspire lykke?
If I purchase bigger things, I always try to attach an experience, milestone or a memory to it. So for instance, there was a nice chair that I really wanted and saved for… but I waited until I published my first book to get it. So now the chair reminds me of that sense of accomplishment.
The Little Book of Lykke takes the reader on a treasure hunt for lykke, how would you encourage someone to begin their journey?
I don´t think there is one first step. It is not a to-do list that you have to follow from A-Z. What I wanted with the new book was to give people a broad spectrum of tips, ideas, and inspiration they can implement easily into their day-to-day lives. For instance, in France they have a wonderful culture around meals. It’s not just food that they value, it is the whole eating experience and, more specifically, how it encourages people to spend time and socialise with one another, and how that impacts on happiness. The extra time invested is about togetherness, not eating more - in fact, while the French spend twice as much time eating meals as people in the UK, they have lower obesity rates and a longer life expectancy. Others might feel inspired by the Bhutanese way of starting the schooldays with a mindfulness exercise called brain brushing or take up the Japanese custom of Shinrin-yoku also known as forest bathing.
Where do you write from? Where is your happy place?
When I write, I imagine sitting opposite a friend and having a conversation with them. Due to this approach, the tone of the books are quite conversational. I like to mix the scientific studies and the facts with personal anecdotes and a sense of humor. That makes the writing very enjoyable for me - and hopefully enjoyable for the reader too.
We’d like to send our customers to the most lykke locations in London. In your experience, are there places that inspire more lykke than others?
Well, parks might be the way forward. For the past years, I have been collecting data on the frequency of smiles in about 20 cities around the world - and people smile more in Regents Park than in Soho.
The Little Book of Lykke is available to buy at Skandium